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Who’s fiddling while the planet burns?

“Do we really want to be remembered as the generation that buried its head in the sand, that fiddled while the planet burned?” asked U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this week. He was addressing representatives from nearly 200 nations, gathered in Spain for a meeting on climate change.

Perhaps Guterres should be talking to the world’s most egregious polluters — the Chinese. While the United States, often singled out as climate change enemy No. 1, have been cutting carbon emissions, Beijing has been increasing them.

Between 2000 and 2018, U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide decreased by about 14%. Similar reductions were recorded for other greenhouse gases.

During the same period, Chinese carbon emissions nearly tripled, according to The Associated Press.

And, while the United States has slashed its consumption of coal, China’s use continues to go up, year by year. It now burns half the coal produced in mines throughout the world.

Are the Chinese being held accountable in any way? No. They were signatories to the Paris accords on climate change, from which the United States is in the process of withdrawing. But, while this country was to be held to strict limits on carbon emissions, China’s commitment was virtually voluntary.

But at least the Chinese are trying, right? Wrong. While investments in coal-burning industries are increasing there, those in “renewable” energy are being cut back.

Until Guterres and others who worry about climate change are willing to take on the world’s leading culprit, it is they — not Americans — who will be viewed as those who “fiddled while the planet burned.”

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